Quarterly Employment Survey of the Labour Bureau
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Quarterly Employment Survey of the Labour Bureau

By Dr. Arup Mitra, D. P. S. Negi and Dr. Puneet Kumar Shrivastav

Image Attribute: The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) launch event on September 27, 2021, was graced by the presence of Shri Rameswar Teli, Minister of State (L&E), Shri Sunil Barthwal, Secretary L&E, Shri D.P.S. Negi, Principal Labour & Employment Advisor, and Shri I.S. Negi, Director General, Labour Bureau. Chairman, Expert Group on All India Surveys, Prof. S.P. Mukherjee was also present.

Image Attribute: The Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) launch event on September 27, 2021, was graced by the presence of Shri Rameswar Teli, Minister of State (L&E), Shri Sunil Barthwal, Secretary L&E, Shri D.P.S. Negi, Principal Labour & Employment Advisor, and Shri I.S. Negi, Director General, Labour Bureau. Chairman, Expert Group on All India Surveys, Prof. S.P. Mukherjee was also present.

Labour Bureau, an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, has been entrusted with the task of conducting the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES) which has two components namely Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers (mostly constituting ‘organized’ segment) and Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) to build up a frame in respect of establishments employing 9 or fewer workers. The Report which launched on September 27 in the First Round of Quarterly Employment Survey of the organized sector units in the non-farm sector. It refers to the first quarter i.e., April to June 2021. In fact, this is the first formal (Government) report aftermath COVID-19, on employment estimates based on the organized sector establishment survey. It also tries to capture the impact of COVID on employment as estimates are provided for March 2020 and July 2020 as well. This survey of the organized sector establishment-based employment does not capture employment data from units that emerged after the 6thEconomic Census in 2013-14. Besides, the survey work for the first quarter of this organized sector establishment-based employment survey corresponds to the period of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and in view of the surge in covid-19 cases across the country, several lockdown restrictions were imposed by respective State/ UT authorities. As a result, data collection was mainly carried out telephonically and through visits by investigators wherever possible. 

An interesting pattern that emerges from the size distribution of the units (Table 1) as of April 1, 2021, is that a very significant percentage of the units are located in the employment size category of 10-39. 

Except for IT/BPOs and construction in the rest of the sectors, more than 50 percent of the units are placed in this size category. Next to this is the size comprising 40 to 99 workers. Though an almost equal proportion of the units at the aggregate level are also present in the smallest size category (less than 10), construction, education, health, and IT/BPOs unravel a relatively much higher percentage in the 40-99 size category compared to the bottom one. From this distribution pattern, the phenomenon of the missing middle (employment-wise) does not seem to be overwhelming anymore. Also, the bottom-heavy pattern is not evident significantly. Some of the small units may have graduated to the organized sector and secondly, the new entries in response to the startup India scheme cannot be undermined.  

Information was collected on whether the organized sector units were registered under the MSME Act/Udyam portal. Sector-wise percentage distribution of estimated establishments registered under the MSME Act/Udyam portal highlights that about 17.7% of the estimated establishments were registered under MSME Act. The maximum percentage of the registered establishment was reported for the manufacturing sector (43.9%) followed by IT/BPOs (24.8%) and construction (19.8%). Further, out of the total establishments registered under MSME Act, about 86.1% were registered under the Udyam portal with a maximum incidence in the Health Sector (97.0%) followed by Financial Services (93.8%).   
 
One significant contribution of the report lies in the fact it offers information to assess the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown on employment. During the lockdown of 2020, only one-third of the units were operational except in the case of financial services and health (Figure 1). Comparing the figures prior to March 25, 2020, with the figures pertaining to July 1, 2020, nearly one-third of the units witnessed employment decline. 

Across the sectors manufacturing, construction and trade are seen to have suffered the maximum employment loss. Further, though both males and females at the aggregate level do not seem to have registered differential growth rates of employment decline, within some of the sectors like manufacturing, construction, trade, and health the female employment fell much more sharply than male employees. 

However, comparing the figures for April 2021 with the pre-Covid situation, the employment loss is found to have been neutralized as the growth rate turns out to be closer to zero (Table 2). In other words, the economy by and large restored the level of employment in April 2021, though the impact of the second wave is yet to be seen. In other words, between July 2020 and April 2021 massive employment growth (more than 7 percent) seems to have taken place which compensated for the employment loss perceived during the nationwide lockdown of 2020.
  
During the lockdown of 2020 around one-fifth of the units could not afford full payment to the employees (Table 3). Manufacturing and construction were among the worst-affected sectors. Even the sectors like health and financial services which were active during the lockdown experienced reduced payment to the employees in nearly 10 percent of the establishments.

The database, on the whole, offers a snapshot of the economy and such information will be relevant for employment planning on a year-to-year basis. 

Table 1: Sector-wise Percentage Distribution of Estimated Establishments according to Different Size Classes of Employment as of April 1, 2021

Table 1: Sector-wise Percentage Distribution of Estimated Establishments according to Different Size Classes of Employment as of 1st April 2021

Source: Table 2.6, First QES Report 2021, Labour Bureau, MoLE, GoI.

Figure 1: Sector-wise Percentage Distribution of Estimated Establishments according to Operational Status During Lockdown: Organised Sector Establishments

Figure 1: Sector-wise Percentage Distribution of Estimated Establishments according to Operational Status During Lockdown: Organised Sector Establishments

Source: Table 2.17, First QES Report 2021, Labour Bureau, MoLE, GoI

Table 2: Growth Rate in Employment: Organised Sector Establishments (in %)

Table 2: Growth Rate in Employment: Organised Sector Establishments (in %)

Source: Calculated by authors based on Figure 2.3 and Table 2.17 of the First QES Report 2021, Labour Bureau, MoLE, GoI.

Table 3: Percentage Distribution of Estimated Employees in Organised Sector Establishments Getting Different Levels of Wages during Lockdown Period (March 25, 2020, to June 30, 2020)


Table 3: Percentage Distribution of Estimated Employees in Organised Sector Establishments Getting Different Levels of Wages during Lockdown Period (25th March 2020 to 30th June 2020)


Source: Table 2.19, First QES Report 2021, Labour Bureau, MoLE, GoI.


About the Authors:

  • Dr. Arup Mitra is a Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi. 
  • Shri D.P.S. Negi is Principal Labour & Employment Advisor (PLEA), Ministry of Labour & Employment.
  • Dr. Puneet Kumar Shrivastav is a Young Professional, Labour Bureau, Ministry of Labour & Employment

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